Oscar Snubs and Surprises
We are in full swing when it comes to movie award season and the most coveted prize of all is, of course, Mr. Oscar. On Tuesday the nominees were announced in Los Angeles and like every year there were several notable snubs and surprises. Let’s take a look at what I think were this year’s snubs and surprise nominations for the 90th annual Academy Awards. For brevity’s sake I will stick to the major categories of Best Screenplay, Supporting Actress, Supporting Actor, Actor, Actress, Director, and Picture.
BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY (NOTE! I’m leaving out original screenplay because honestly there is not a single surprise or snub in my opinion.)
Snub: Hampton Fancher and Michael Green for Blade Runner 2049
Spoiler alert guys, in this post Blade Runner 2049 is going to come up a lot. I think the best thing that could have happened early on in the development of Blade Runner 2049 was Hampton Fancher, the screenwriter for the original, signing on. Along with Michael Green, Fancher seamlessly delves back into that world like he’d never left. Furthermore, he and Green crafted a script that in my opinion was at least equal to the original. That the two didn’t get acknowledged for this feat makes no sense.
Surprise: Scott Frank, James Mangold, and (hello again!) Michael Green for Logan
Of all the nominations this year, this one surprised me the most. Don’t get me wrong, this was an amazing script and Logan is my number three film on the year, but I never in a million years thought that the Academy would recognize a “comic book” movie for adapted screenplay. The trio of Frank, Mangold, and Green wrote a beautiful elegy/meditation on getting old, the concept of legacy, and a love letter to old-time Westerns like Shane. Plus it was just a great goddamn script. That these guys got nominated in this category pleases me to no end.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS
Snub #1: Daphne Keen for Logan
Last year’s Logan may have been Hugh Jackman’s swan song for Wolverine, but man if Daphne Keen didn’t steal every damn scene she was in. That a person this young could emote so well and bring such intensity to the role, that she could go toe to toe with one of the greatest actors in the world, defies description. She was FEARLESS and gave everything to this role. And when you consider the fact that for a third of the movie she doesn’t even talk, it makes her performance even more impressive. Keen is the female Jacob Tremblay when it comes to young talent.
Snub #2: Ana de Armas for Blade Runner 2049
While the film explores the idea of what it means to be human, vis-a-vis Replicants, Armas’ role as Joi, the A.I. that K uses to add meaning to his life, also plays a significant role. De Armas delivered a beautiful and aching performance. Even though she is an A.I. she’s able to evoke an unexpected empathy from the audience.
Snub #3: Sylvia Hoeks as Luv in Blade Runner 2049
A performance equal to de Armas’ but vastly different, Hoeks commands your attention every time she was on screen. Her Luv exudes a calculated rage that occasionally overflows into actual violence. Yet she’s vulnerable especially when it comes to her relationship with Niander Wallace the head of the Tyrell company. To put it bluntly she has “Daddy Issues” and the interplay between the two as she tries to please him is fascinating. And Hoeks’ confrontation with Robin Wright’s Lt. Joshi comes off as nothing less than harrowing.
Surprise: Lesley Manville for Phantom Thread
Now I base this surprise more on award nominations for other award shows leading up to this point. I have yet to see Phantom Thread so I can’t attest to Manville’s performance yet. But I totally thought Holly Hunter from The Big Sick was a shoe-in for a nomination.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR
Snub #1: Mark Hamill for The Last Jedi
As divisive as The Last Jedi was, almost everyone agreed that Mark Hamill was magnificent. Although I’ve admired Hamill my whole life (for God’s sake he’s Luke Skywalker!) I never thought he was a particularly good actor. However, he without question, brought it in Rian Johnson’s film. The mark of a true professional is even if they don’t agree necessarily with the vision they put their all into what they are given. Hamill did just that and deserved a nomination.
Snub #2: Patrick Stewart for Logan
This is one of the snubs that pissed me off the most and one I saw coming from the day I saw Logan. Sylvester Stallone managed to do something a few years ago I didn’t think was possible–reinvigorate a beloved character (Rocky Balboa) to such a degree that it earned him a nomination. I have never in my life seen a more brilliant or nuanced performance from Patrick Stewart, and this is a guy who’s had a pretty storied career. His portrayal of aging Professor X, one suffering from dementia, guilt, and regret is heartbreaking. His absence in this category makes no sense.
Snub #3: Michael Stulbarg for Call Me By Your Name
Listen it’s no secret that I hated Call Me By Your Name. I absolutely loathed it. However, credit where it’s due, Michael Stulbarg was great in this film. I’ve always enjoyed Stulbarg’s previous work especially Boardwalk Empire, so it’s too bad he missed out here. However, he’s too talented an actor not to be nominated someday.
Snub #4: Rob Morgan for Mudbound
I was actually pleased to see that Mudbound received some well deserved love from the Academy this year. However, they unfortunately overlooked Rob Morgan’s stellar performance in Mudbound. Morgan’s Hap Jackson is a man who knows his place as a black man in 1940s Mississippi, yet yearns for more. He’s less willing to do anything about it then his son Ronsel. Yet Hap endures every trial with a quiet dignity. Morgan delivers the goods in Mudbound.
Surprise: Woody Harrelson for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Three Billboards was one of my top films of the year. It’s full of fantastic performances and make no mistake, Woody Harrelson is great BUT he’s not Oscar worthy. In a head to head competition between Patrick Stewart in Logan and Woody Harrelson in Three Billboards, Stewart wins everyday of the week and twice on Sunday.
Snub: Jennifer Lawrence for mother!
Aronofsky’s mother! may be the most over-criticized film of 2017. It definitely was the most bizarre. I think it’s one of those movies that as the years pass may be admired more and more. Regardless I think Lawrence one again brings her A-game. In a career where she’s mostly played tough, strong, and independent women, this performance really showed her vulnerable side. It’s a two-hour harrowing experience for Lawrence’s character and you feel every second of it. The fact that she got a Razzie nomination for this film is preposterous.
Good job Academy! Everyone in this category is absolutely deserving.
Snub #1: Tom Hanks for The Post
If you were putting together a Hall of Fame list for actors, Tom Hanks’ name would be near the top. He always puts in a solid performance whatever the role. Yet despite performances in The Terminal, Captain Phillips, and Sully, Hanks hasn’t been nominated for an Oscar since 2000’s Cast Away. Although Hanks received a nomination from the Golden Globes, Big Tom once again came up short with the Academy.
Snub #2: James Franco for The Disaster Artist
“Oh hai Mark!” Now whether or not you thought Franco’s performance in The Disaster Artist was excellent acting or just a great impression of one of Hollywood’s wackiest people, the fact is this is a huge snub. Franco was previously nominated and won the Golden Globe for his role as the eccentric Tommy Wisseau. Yet Franco missed out here and I believe that the snub coinciding with his recent sexual assault allegations are no coincidence.
Snub #3: Garrett Hedlund for Mudbound
Garrett Hedlund is an actor that’s never really been on my radar. I liked him in Friday Night Lights and Tron: Legacy. However, his role in Mudbound as alcoholic WWII vet Jamie McAllan was a career best. I didn’t think Hedlund had it in him. Hedlund takes the clichéd “scarred alcoholic war vet with personal demons” character and makes it fresh. Despite his drunkenness, Jamie is someone you root for and when he finds a kindred spirit in Ronsel Jackson, you can’t help but feel happy for him. It makes the scene where Jamie is forced to watch Ronsel be tortured, that much more soul crushing. The agony is written all over Hedlund’s face. What a performance. I’ll never count Hedlund out again.
Surprise: Denzel Washington for Roman J. Israel
I guess it’s somewhat crazy to say that Denzel Washington being nominated for an Oscar is a “surprise.” The man is an unbelievable actor. And to be fair I thought last year he got jobbed, as his performance in Fences may have been the highlight of a very storied career. Roman J. Israel wasn’t well received by critics, however Washington’s performance was almost universally praised. Regardless I was surprised that Hanks or Franco didn’t snag that spot.
Snub #1: Steven Spielberg for The Post
You know you’ve reached elite status when a director can release a film and it’s referred to as “lesser Spielberg” and it’s STILL nominated for several Oscars including Best Picture. It’s almost like the attitude when it comes to Spielberg is “Yeah it’s a great movie and he’s a great director but he’s always great, let’s give someone else a nomination.” Which, honestly, is a ridiculous notion but then again no one ever claimed that how the Academy works makes sense.
Snub #2: James Franco for The Disaster Artist
The Disaster Artist is a film that I’ve yet to see. However, much like Lesley Mannville’s surprise nomination, I think there’s another surprise director nomination (which I’ll get to) that factors into this snub. And again as much as I hate to admit it, I think that the sexual allegations against James Franco factor in.
Snub #3: Luca Guadagnino for Call Me By Your Name
In case I haven’t made it abundantly clear already, I hated Call Me By Your Name. However, I thought that based on sheer reputation and how the film has been almost universally lauded, that Guadagnino was guaranteed a nomination. From a personal standpoint I applaud this decision because I thought the directing was terrible, however I’m smart enough to know a snub when I see one.
Snub #4: Dee Rees for Mudbound
This snub is somewhat eased by the fact that Rees is the first black woman ever to be nominated in the Best Adapted Screenplay category. That doesn’t take away from the fact that Rees ABSOLUTELY should have been nominated in this category. Perhaps it’s the Netflix bias coming in again, I couldn’t say for sure. However, you could make the argument that not only should she have been nominated, she could have won.
Snub #5: Martin McDonagh for Three Billboard Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Granted this year’s directing category is stacked. However, Three Billboards is not only one of the most well received films of the year, it’s also the favorite to win the Oscar for Best Picture. McDonagh did a remarkable job directing Three Billboards. I already thought he was an excellent director with films such as In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths, but this film showcases his talents even more effectively. He’ll get there though. I have no doubt.
Snub # 6: Denis Villeneuve for Blade Runner 2049
Yes I know there’s only five nomination spots for Best Director. Sue me. Behind Spielberg and Scorsese, Villeneuve may be my favorite director working today. Prisoners, Arrival, and now Blade Runner 2049 have established him as a director to be reckoned with and one that commands your attention. Arrival was the best movie I saw in 2016 and Blade Runner 2049 was the best I saw in 2017. Of all the directors that got snubbed this year, Villeneuve’s bugs me the most.
Surprise: Paul Thomas Anderson for Phantom Thread
Let me be clear. I LOVE Paul Thomas Anderson. I believe he’s one of the great visionary directors of our time that tackles a broad range of subjects. Seriously, what director shoots a film about the porn industry in the 70s (Boogie Nights) and later films a movie that it is a thinly veiled commentary on Scientology (The Master)? However, this is one of those nominations that you can classify under “what’s most recent is often what’s best remembered.” Phantom Thread only just recently expanded nationwide and I believe you can attribute Anderson’s nomination to the film being fresh in Academy members’ minds.
Snub #1: The Disaster Artist
For some reason the Academy seems harsh when it comes to comedies. Drama tends to rule the day. The only legit comedy nomination this year is Lady Bird. Three Billboards contains comedic elements but it’s a drama. And don’t come at me with the “Get Out is dark satire” bullshit. Jordan Peele’s film is a horror movie. End of story. As such, The Disaster Artist was left out of this category.
Snub #2: Logan
The superhero bias that began with The Dark Knight continues with Logan. And just like with Christopher Nolan’s film, Logan isn’t just a great superhero movie, it’s a great movie period. Logan contains everything that makes a film great: stellar acting, great script, a story with relevance and meaning, excellent direction, and beautiful cinematography. When the Academy snubs films like Logan and The Dark Knight, it just proves how elitist the organization can be.
Snub #3: The Last Jedi
I’ll probably take some shit for this one but I don’t care. I found myself thinking about The Last Jedi every day for at least a week after I saw it. Things would hit me that I didn’t realize upon my initial viewing. I loved everything about this movie, especially its social relevance and commentary. Just like the Academy shows bias toward superhero movies, they do the same thing with science fiction films.
Snub #4: Blade Runner 2049
I think the quote in the image above says it all. Blade Runner 2049 was the best movie I saw in 2017 and the only one I saw twice in the theater with the exception of The Last Jedi. This movie works on EVERY…SINGLE…LEVEL. It’s not only entertaining, it’s a thought-provoking, heavily nuanced, and socially relevant film that speaks to the very nature of what it means to be human. I had high expectations but this film completely blew me away. As time passes, Blade Runner 2049 will go down as one of the great science-fiction films of all-time. It’s just as important and significant as Metropolis and 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Surprise #1: Darkest Hour
This one really surprised me because other than Gary Oldman’s performance as Winston Churchill, nothing else indicated this film was going to receive a Best Picture nomination. However, much like The King’s Speech, this film is prime Oscar bait, so there you go.
Surprise #2: Phantom Thread
This nomination is a combination of Oscar bait material and also my previous sentiments regarding the Oscar caliber films that are fresh in the Academy’s minds tend to get the most recognition. Plus whenever you have Daniel Day-Lewis in your film, your chances of having the film be nominated for a Best Picture are better than average. Additionally, this is (according to Day-Lewis) his last film so that might have been a factor as well.
Any snubs or surprises I left out? Let me know in the comments section below. For more Oscar information check out my Oscar prediction article coming the last week of February! And watch the Oscars (if that’s your thing) Sunday Mark 4th!
You can follow me on Twitter at @DarthGandalf1